Plants are inescapably exposed to environmental stress because of their sessile lifestyle. Such stress induces the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which are in turn a source of genotoxic stress. ROS are also generated intrinsically during photosynthesis in the chloroplasts. Furthermore, plants are affected by the UV component of sunlight, which damages their genomes. To protect their genomic integrity from DNA damage, plants activate a DNA damage response (DDR) system that regulates cell cycle arrest, DNA repair, and programmed cell death. Although plants have orthologs of several of the DDR factors that are found in animals, certain critical animal DDR factors, notably the tumor suppressor p53 and the DDR kinases CHK1 and CHK2, have not been found in plants. In this mini-review, we summarize the functions and regulatory mechanism of Arabidopsis thaliana SUPPRESSOR OF GAMMA RESPONSE 1 (SOG1), a plant-specific transcription factor that plays a central role in the DDR. The characteristics of SOG1 are similar to those of animal p53, even though the proteins' amino acid sequences are unrelated. We suggest that plants acquired the central transcriptional factor SOG1 as a functional homolog of p53 during the evolution of their DDR system.
Keywords: ATM; ATR; Arabidopsis; DNA damage response; Ionizing radiation; SOG1; genome stability; p53; phosphorylation.